Being ok

Since my dad has been diagnosed with cancer. I keep going between being “okay” and not being ok, like holding back tears not being ok. I find myself in prayer quite often. Praying for my dad, praying for more time, praying for God’s holy hand of healing to gather the cancer cells and whisk them away as only God can do. I ask The Father to give my mother strength and to keep her healthy. I pray for God to give my dads doctors the wisdom to treat him with the best possible medical treatments and therapies that exists. I pray for wise and compassionate nurses to care for him.

I have plenty of prayer warriors from church and outside church praying for my dad and my family and that touches my heart is such a special way. Because I know people mean it when they say they will pray for us.

I was able to spend most of my afternoon yesterday with my dad and mom in the hospital. As long as I was with my dad I felt fine and I felt like he was “fine” It’s when I’m not with him that my mind wanders and the worry and anxiety start to take over. Those are the times I need God the most. To lay the worry at His feet.

Today my dad is out of the ICU and in a regular room. I’m happy for the progress he’s made. I’m also glad I’ll be able to call him on his cell phone this way I can hear him being. “fine”

What I Need

I was driving and listening to one of the Christian radio stations we have here and the dj played an intro to a song. The intro was from one of the artists who’s song was about needing Jesus. And it hit me. I need Him. I really do. I was thinking of all the times in my life I thought I could do it on my own or thought I was doing things in my own strength and how very wrong I was/am.

I started thinking of how many times I didn’t thank God for his goodness and mercy. I repented for transgressions that happened a long time ago. He knows. I’m sitting here at the ferry terminal waiting to go to work and I realize He is here. Right here in this building full of people waiting to get to work, school, tourists… Our Lord and Savior is alive and well and He is with us wherever we go even in times or trial, especially in times of trial. I never before thought of The Lord as being so… so tangible. His love is amazing and all anyone has to do to receive it is accept Him as your Savior; the Lord of your life.

I also thought of The Gospel. The truth that God sent his only son who lived a sinless life to die a horrible death for us all of us. It’s so very humbling and unreal and so very real at the same time.  The Gospel is indeed good news!

I thought of all this while driving home from bringing my daughter to my Mom’s for a sleepover. It’s amazing how God will meet you where you are when you’re least expecting it. He meets you where you are… You don’t need to be “perfect” or cleaned up or have your act together to meet Him. The Lord takes you as you are and loves you as you are.

Hurry up and wait…

I’ve spoken to the director of the agency who owns the group home we want Thomas to live at. In turn he, the director; spoke to the person from the state who is in charge of finding a group home for Thomas. The director informed state guy that we want Thomas in his group home, I called state guy and told him Tommy and I want Thomas in that particular group home. Sounds simple right? No. Now state guy needs to see if the state and the powers that be, will approve Thomas leaving his current school before he turns 21. I’m not good at waiting. Not good at all.

We need prayers guys! Prayers that this is God’s will that Thomas is to live in this group home. I told state guy that we are totally okay with Thomas leaving his school before he turns 21. I get almost giddy to think he could be living so close to us. I imagine simply having him over for dinner, going to the mall just “because” on a Wednesday night, walking down to the “famous” Italian ice place down the street on a summer night… Not having to schedule and plan every single visit. Don’t get me wrong I adore the staff where Thomas is now and they have been completely accommodating to us and it will be difficult to leave them, but it’s time for a move and I pray this is God’s plan for us. But for now we wait. I don’t like waiting and not knowing. This is so out of our hands: But I know it is in God’s hands.

And so I pray. And I ask my prayer warriors to join me.

Easter 2016

Bunnies, chocolate, jelly beans, those darn delicious Cabury mini eggs…all things that spark recognition of the Easter holiday. But what about the “real” meaning of Easter? By real I mean seriously the real reason we celebrate. Jesus Christ was risen from the dead that Sunday morning and what a glorious day that must have been. I can only imagine how the apostles felt to see their Jesus again after a crucifixion fit for a criminal. How He was stripped of his clothing and beaten, given a literal crown of thorns. Jesus then took upon himself all the sins of the world. I love Romans 5:8, “You are loved more than you will ever know by someone who died to know you” So powerful.

It wasn’t too long ago that I brushed off the real meaning of Easter. It was just another “holiday” to get through. We (meaning my husband and kids and I) didn’t go to church. We didn’t really have a home church. I tried to go back to the Episcopalian church I grew up in but they offered nothing for my kids, no Sunday school, no bible study, no kids activities. And to be honest I finally left “the church” I was feeling frustrated and empty. I went back when I was pregnant with Samantha to the Episcopalian church but I felt empty when I arrived home afterwards. So after Samantha was baptized as a baby I stopped going. I did what I felt I had to do to ensure she would be “safe” if God forbid something happened to her, that she would go to heaven because she was baptized. I didn’t know that that was so far from enough.

I didn’t know we had to accept Christ as our Savior to be saved. I know all about Jesus I thought. Yes I knew of him but I didn’t have a relationship with Him I didn’t truly know him and wasn’t thankful for what He did for me. My kids didn’t know enough about Jesus to accept him as their Savior. It was only when we started going to our now home church about 8 years ago did my kids become exposed to the wonderful Gospel. The good news. That Jesus died for our sins and we were saved once we opened our hearts to Him and accepted the free gift of grace. I was baptized again this time by my choice on June 27, 2011. In front of the whole congregation I publicly let it be known that I am now a follower of Jesus Christ. It was wonderful and something I wholeheartedly recommend to any Christian; be baptized (again).

So Easter has come and gone. We celebrated our Lord’s resurrection with joy. And what a joyous reason to celebrate.

People watching and being in the city

I’m on my way to Manhattan this morning. I’m on the ferry and I’m people watching. I love to people watch, usually the subway has more interesting people to watch mostly because it’s a more diverse population than the morning ferry. On the ferry are mainly people going to work with the occasional college student here and there. The afternoon ferry is interesting because of the number of tourists. I love to tourist watch too.

I was in the city yesterday for work and I still can’t believe the location I’m at. Literally right across from the Empire State Building. It’s amazing and you never grow tired of craning your neck to see the top. I love it. I’m in the city today for an appointment with my therapist. I’ve “graduated” to every two weeks as opposed to every week. I’m okay with the new arrangement. Honestly there are weeks that I go and I have literally nothing going on to talk about, I’m just not ready to let it go completely. We discuss my small group bible study and some challenges that have come up. It’s good to have Nancy’s perspective and insight. So I am glad that I still see her.

I received a phone call from Thomas’ social worker yesterday. It seems a couple of agencies are interested in Thomas for group home placement. When Thomas is 21 next year he’ll go to live in a group home, this is the plan. However these agencies represent group homes in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens. Umm….No. We want him here where we live. And thank God his social worker feels the same way. She’s in complete agreement with us and already told me she will also advocate for Thomas to be placed here where we live. So I’m praying for there to be a space available when the time comes.

Tommy and I will pick up Thomas on Friday morning so he can spend Easter with us. I’m looking forward to seeing him. We speak often on the phone but it’s not the same. He’s really looking forward to coming home so I’m hoping it all goes smooth and anxiety free for him and us.

Happy Easter!

Are You Where You Though yet You’d Be?

If someone were to ask you if you are where you’d thought you would be say 5 years ago would you say yes? What about 3 years or even 1 year ago? My answer would be no. I always pictured myself with Tommy but to tell you the truth I rarely think of the future, I’m not one for planning ahead. We make plans and God laughs is what my husband says. I remember the exact time I stopped making plans. It was after I had the second miscarriage. I kept making these grand plans to have another baby but God had different plans at that time. I did end up pregnant again and giving birth but it was at God’s timing, not mine.

I do think of the future and have hopes. I hope Thomas will be living at a group home in this town where we live when he turns 21. I hope Alyssa gets into her college of choice and is able to dorm in Manhattan the way she wants to without putting herself in a crap load of debt.

If someone had told me 3 years ago I’d be happy and not constantly fighting the depression I don’t think I would have believed them. Three years ago I was still trialing medications and having good times and bad times. I desperately wanted a job, any job. I have no idea what I thought I’d be doing. I was adamant that I not be working in any way as a nurse.

Turns out God did have plans. He wanted me in a better place than I was 3 years ago because a job did materialize. But like everything else it was on His timing. I don’t think I would have been able to keep and do well at a job three years ago. Heck, even 2 years ago I wasn’t doing as well as I am now depression wise. Two years ago I decided I didn’t want any job, I wanted a job in Manhattan; part time.

I’ve been employed now, part time in Manhattan for 17 months. I know this was all in God’s plan for me. I’m working as a nurse but not in a capacity I ever dreamed of. Every day that I work I pray on the way there while on the ferry, sometimes on the subway. I pray for wisdom and discernment and for God to be with me while I’m working. On the way home I pray again and thank Him for being with me. If it were not for Him I wouldn’t be where I am today. Everything I wanted on my terms did not come to be. It was all on God’s timing. And His timing is nothing less than perfect.

Taking me Back

We started our small group/bible study the other night. It was a great turnout, around 5-6 woman not including myself and my co-leader. The women were amazing, caring and very open. I told my story of Thomas first. Because he’s 19 and and so much has happened in those 19 years I felt like I glossed over a lot of our journey and didn’t go into great detail. How deep in detail do you go when your head spins to just give the basic no frills version?

The members of the group did go into great detail about the lives of themselves and their children. I’m grateful and feel honored that they were comfortable enough to be so open. Their stories and raw emotion brought me back. Back to times that were really tough with Thomas. Emotions that were buried were brought back to the surface but not in a bad way. More of a “yes, I remember feeling that way… but it’s okay now…” And I was quick to get past the memory. I did a lot of nodding and “uh-huh’ing” in agreement of knowing how these women felt.  It’s nice to know I was never alone in my feelings. Even now so many years later the feelings I had are the same feelings these women are having now. It’s amazing. We’re all keeping in touch via email and text messaging; sharing doctor recommendations and keeping each other in prayer.

I left that night feeling incredibly fortunate that God has chosen to use me in this way. Fortunate and privileged to hear these experiences and be a part of their lives.

 

Changes

The office where I work has moved. I’m no longer working on the relatively quiet street of East 30th Street, I’ll now be working right on 5th avenue close to the Empire State Building. I helped my boss and her family move into the new place Saturday evening after I was done for the day. I liked where the old office was, nice and quiet kind of tucked away…but now things have changed. My boss is no longer leasing office space from another physician; she has her own office and I’m happy for her. I’ll be happy in the new space once I get acclimated. One thing I’ll have to get used to is the busy-ness of 5th Ave. I felt overwhelmed by the whole New York-ness of the area. And to top it off I didn’t know where the subway station was so I looked like a tourist trying to find my way after we were finished setting up. I had to ask a street vendor for directions and walk 2 blocks to get the 1 train. Two long city blocks. The next time I’ll take a different train, one closer to the office. I’ve already mapped it out.

The new office has 3 rooms, one my boss will be renting out shortly and 2 for her own use. One is almost set up ready for me to begin, we’re just waiting for a sink to be installed which will be nice for me to be able to wash my hands without running down the hall every 15 minutes between clients. I’ll no longer be close to a thrift store I found that was close to the old office. I’ll just have to find another one…I know I will.

The other change is my small group/bible study begins in 2 days. I will admit I’m excited and nervous. I’ve never undertaken anything like this. Any other group I was involved in I was never a “leader” but one who attended. I’m praying this works out well. That I’ll be able to bring God glory through my experiences with Thomas and my family and the depression from the trauma of living with him the last 6 months or so that he was home. I’m praying the book I chose speaks to the other women the way it spoke to me. I’m just praying…

 

 

 

Thomas This Week

I’ve been thinking about Thomas lately. He ended up in the ER/Urgent Care the other night for an infection on his leg. He’s fine but did have to have a dose of IV antibiotics. That got me worried a little being that I’m not there nearby but I know he’s in good hands with the nursing staff and residential staff. I have to trust them.

I’ve been thinking of the road we’ve traveled with this son of ours. It hasn’t been an easy one. Many doctors, psych hospitalizations, many med trials and finally residential placement not once but twice. Residential the second time was “easier” because the situation was so dire and my safety was becoming more and more at risk. The school district cooperated with no need to hire a lawyer like the first time. But that didn’t make it a walk in the park. He’s still my son. And my ideal life for him wasn’t for Thomas to live somewhere other than his home, with people other than his family.

My ideal scenario was for Thomas  to stay home until he graduated school at age 21 (special Ed students are educated and receive services until they are 21 yrs old). I then envisioned the perfect group home placement close by to where we live. This is not the reality obviously. Our reality is that we are unable to meet Thomas’ needs here at home, he lives an hour away and I pray for group home placement on Staten Island and not an hour away when he turns 21.

In as little as a few years ago I felt like a failure to Thomas. I’ve written about this in the past. I had distinct visions of me one day meeting our Father in heaven and him being disappointed in me, shaking His head saying, “I gave Thomas to you, what have you done??” I no longer feel this way.  I know Tommy and I did the best we could with the situation we were given. I know I haven’t failed him as a mother. To quote Maya Angelou “We do the best we could with what we knew, when we knew more we did better”. I’ve had people ask me if that quote was an excuse for doing a bad job. My answer is no and the quote is quite simple and true. It puts my mind at ease as Thomas’ mother because the more I knew about my son and his diagnosis’ the better I did at getting help for him.

My other favorite quote is a bible verse from Romans 5: “3Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” My suffering has produced endurance, I have character. I certainly have hope and I know I have God’s love.

Blame

When I’m in a good mood I just love the Lord and want to sing! I sing along to the Christian radio I always have on in the car and I want everyone else to sing with me. To know that He is God and He is in charge, it’s all going to be alright after all Jesus died for us… Then the mood shifts. And I start to question Him. Why have I gained all this weight? If God loved me I wouldn’t be struggling so much with this. Why am I in such a bad mood? Why is my daughter having such a difficult time at school?  Why is my son the way he is? I know some of these examples seem silly but this is what runs through my head. 

This time the mood was different than the others.  I at once felt guilty to be so quick to blame God. It literally stopped me in my tracks and it got me thinking about my faith. I’m so quick to praise when life is going good, I need to be just as quick to praise when I’m in “a mood” and things aren’t looking so rosy. I remember when Thomas was home for Christmas. Thomas was very high maintenance during that visit and I was having a hard time with him. Was I praising God? Nope, I was annoyed that my son is the way he is. I realized that I wasn’t in prayer and worshiping the Lord and I felt odd about it. Fake.  I did however pray for patience with Thomas. And I do feel He heard my prayer. I still listened to my Christian music in the car and sang alone and went to church the Sunday after Christmas. But I should have been in prayer a few days earlier when I was having a difficult time.  Instead I was annoyed and anxious.

This mood of mine was an eye opener. More praise, prayer and worship in tougher times, not only when all is right with my world.